Readings for Today
The core beliefs of Catholicism, and indeed Christianity, are being abandoned in ever increasing numbers. Today's readings are about sacrifice and saving actions that make no sense to most people, even Catholics. The vision in the first reading of blood being sprinkled on the people is repulsive to most tastes and seems primitive. And it is. Some scientists and their promoters say that the human race must outgrow religion and embrace science as the replacement, and they have it partly right. Humanity must grow, and that implies a less-mature state in the past, in the same way that children must mature from a conceptus in the womb to adulthood. Diapers are messy but we accept this as appropriate at a certain stage. There is no stigma attached to having been an infant, yet we may regard early religious development as an embarrassment. From a time before history, God was calling us. From a time when we were little more than upright apes, He was calling and we responded the best we could, often as poorly as a child first responds to potty training. He called us to come away from the beasts and become an image of God, to embrace the spiritual and intellectual life, to put aside mere instinct and know virtue and love. Moses prepared the people for Jesus in a way they could barely understand, and lifted them higher than they had been before. It is like the steps in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, where we must move from the basics of survival up to greater levels of living. Without the sprinkling of blood in the past, we could not make the leap to Holy Communion, where our senses see no blood, and only our intellect and spirit can understand it. The meaning is communicated in a new way, but we must respect the way we arrived here. Each of us started as a baby, but we must not ridicule babies now that we have grown.
The question is what is next along this line of growth. The Church teaches that the faith is complete and no new revelation is to be expected. In nearly 2,000 years, we have yet to rise to the level of the Gospel: the world is still full of violence and stupidity, and those in the Church are doing no better than the ones outside. There is room for much growth and maturity, and if we finally decide to live the Gospel, we can then ask God, "What is next?"